Review: Grey Matters by Kristen Costello

Struggle is universal. But talking about it? Well, that’s not always encouraged – especially when those struggles involve mental illness.

Grey Matters is a poetry collection that urges us to have conversations about the things we’re told to suppress – to bring our darkness to light. It provides refreshingly honest and relatable depictions of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders while also offering sparks of hope to readers – healing may not be a linear process, but over time, it is possible. Things aren’t always black and white: Sometimes, the very thing you’re fighting (your own mind) can also be what saves you.

A beautiful collections of poems that are honest and raw about mental health. Kristen Costello has quickly become one of my favorite poets to put out a collection based on mental health. She is so real and holds nothing back. Her poems are full of beautiful sound – the alliteration in many of her poems creates almost lyrics as you read.

Just in the first poem, “Swallowing Shadows,” I got goosebumps at the line: “This is how we choke – / by swallowing words / we want to spit”.

The book is separated into four sections: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, healing. It weaves a great pathway through the mind and all of the intrusive thoughts we experience along the way.

I’ve already purchased a copy for myself and have recommended it to everyone I know.

Purchase your copy here and let me know what you think!

Turn the Page

Well, here we are. I am officially done with every part of the 2020-2021 school year. At the end of last summer, I had every doubt that I could make it through this school year in general without a full on mental breakdown. Every day challenged me in a new way, and forced me to look at my own life, thoughts, behavior, personal expectations, self-doubt. I learned who’s really on my team, and who wears two faces better than I thought they did. Most importantly, I learned that I can make it through anything.

It’s crazy how your own mind can work against you, convincing you with every fiber of your being that you are not worth the love and appreciation other people have to give; that you are not great at what you do no matter how many people tell you otherwise; that everyone would be better off when you’re not around.

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You Are Not A Burden

I have to repeat these words to myself on a daily basis recently.

I’ve been posting a lot of poems lately. Not every single one I’ve written, but a good chunk of them. It’s annoying because I want to save them and try and publish a poetry chapbook of my own, but I think there’s power in sharing an emotional struggle to ensure that no one ever truly feels alone in the battle with their own mental health. I feel that when we try harder to hide it from everyone, it’s when we feel the most alone and that we are a burden to those who love us.

I’ve uttered those words to my therapist a few times. “I feel like I’m becoming a burden.” It’s the anxiety/depression talking, I know. She’ll ask in response, “Who told you that you’ve become a burden?” and I have to admit that nobody has said it, that’s just how it feels. It’s crazy what a sick brain can convince you of.

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Relinquishing Control (Or At Least Trying To)

It’s hard for many to admit: you truly do not have control over anything except for yourself. I’ll be honest, this is one thing that has absolutely wrecked me over this last year of my life. I never considered myself to be the Type A control freak. I’m way too introverted to carry that title and position. Most “control freaks” run a situation, refusing to let others take over.

I, rather, let other people run the show while I watch from the sidelines as things fall apart because I knew better but was too afraid to stand up and say anything. What happens when things don’t work out as planned? Someone has to pick up the pieces and fix it. Enter me: the fixer. I have no issues with this role. Never have.

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When the Self-Doubt Holds You Back

So often – okay, literally everyday – I find myself making the decision to not do something because I don’t think it’ll work out, I’m not good enough to do it. No one is going to like it anyway, so why bother? I’ll be honest, hitting publish on blog posts many days is a challenge, and a great post will sit in my drafts for months and months because I fear it’s not good enough.

I have a hard time feeling good about anything if I don’t get validation from it. That sounds so bad and typing it was actually harder than writing it in my journal. If I don’t get likes and comments, I should just throw it away so no one knows it bombed. I’m a failure. Why am I doing this?

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Still Need a Resolution? 5 Reasons You Should Start Journaling!

  1. Your journal is a safe space to express feelings, emotions, opinions, etc. about anything and everything. Whether you choose to just do a daily debrief at the end of the day, a more structured journal experience with daily prompts, or a gratitude journal, it is all private writing that you never have to share with anyone unless you choose to.
  2. There are options: you can journal on a computer using any word processor, you can download apps for your phone/tablet, or you can go the old fashioned way and write with pen and paper. Pen and paper gives you an opportunity to decorate it to your liking, plus, a chance to break away from technology and blue light.
  3. You can choose any time of the day to set aside for journaling. If you’re a morning person, you can make a cup of tea or coffee, find a space, and write before you start your day. Maybe you’re a mid-day journaler – taking some time during your lunch break to debrief from a rough morning. If you’re like me, you can journal at night before bed as a way to wrap up the day and summarize your experiences and emotions that you had.
  4. For many, you are able to process things so much better in writing. I know for myself, I rely on ranting and venting to eventually get to the point of what I’m mad about, and in writing, I can do that without the judgement of others, and finally start to process what I’m actually feeling by the end of a page. I’m mad that _____, but actually I’m just hurting because ______. Journaling gives me the opportunity to really delve into my brain and identify triggers and feelings, so that I’m less likely to have an outburst out loud because I was unable to express my true emotions.
  5. After some time, your journal can serve as a reminder of all the good and bad times you had. For me, my therapist convinced me to read through my entries from this year to show all the challenges I pushed through and the growth I made. I didn’t believe her, and figured it would just bring up a ton of emotions I did not want to process again, but she was right. While I did feel some emotions reading through the entries, I also felt proud for all that I had been able to work through this year. 2020 as a teacher was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Too bad 2021 won’t be much different.
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